October 20, 2015

Udall, Heinrich Announce New $1.8 Million Investment in Northwest NM Economic Development, Job Creation

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced more than $1.8 million in grants for the San Juan College School of Energy, the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments and the Navajo Nation Government to help diversify the economy in Northwest New Mexico and create new jobs in economically sustainable industries in the San Juan Basin. The San Juan College School of Energy received a $1.4 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to provide re-employment services to workers impacted by changes in the regional energy economy, and to partner with employers in expanding sectors like information technology, health care and energy. The Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments received a $327,300 grant from EDA to conduct a study on the impacts of the coal industry in the San Juan Basin and surrounding communities, evaluate future opportunities and obstacles to economic diversification, and create a report summarizing recommendations for future economic growth. The Navajo Nation Government received a $147,900 EDA grant to develop an economic recovery strategy to address negative impacts of job losses due to coal mine closures.

"The San Juan College School of Energy, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments and the Navajo Nation Government are doing important work to prepare New Mexicans for the jobs of the future in our changing energy economy, and these EDA grants are smart investments in New Mexico's workforce," Udall said. "The study will help communities in the San Juan Basin identify and build on their strengths to create jobs in the region. The study complements funding that will enable the San Juan College School of Energy to continue to provide training and hands-on work experience. Additional funding will help the Navajo Nation strategize how to create new jobs in energy and other fields. These grants are steps in the right direction, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for resources to help workers in New Mexico get the skills they need to succeed in new and expanding industries."

"These smart investments will help diversify northwestern New Mexico's economy," Heinrich said. "San Juan College School of Energy is well positioned to provide our workforce with hands-on training to compete in the tech, health care, and energy sectors, which could yield dividends in job creation and increase employment opportunities. I'm also pleased with the investment made in the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments to examine the economic strengths around the San Juan Basin community. This study will provide recommendations on how to leverage our resources to ensure industries in the area thrive. Additionally, the investment for the Navajo Tribal Nation Government will allow for greater assessment of ways to grow Indian Country's energy sector. When our workers have the tools they need to succeed, everyone wins."

The EDA provided the grants through the administration's Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between the EDA, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The initiative provides federal resources to assist communities that have been negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector to diversify their economies and create jobs.